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Are My Sperm Still Squirming?

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Anonymous asks:

I am 18 years old, and I am scared to touch my sperm. And when I do masturbate, I feel like I'm spreading it everywhere. If I even ejaculate or touch something with sperm on my hand, I am scared to death to touch it. Even 2 days later I feel like if I touch the spot I'll have sperm on me. I am miserable because I can't even masturbate, nor do I even enjoy having a wet dream. Can I really spread sperm or get it on me after touching something in two days, or will the sperm be dead?

Ruthie replies:

Jack,

Thanks for sending in your question! Although you've asked about the lifespan of sperm outside your body (and anyone else's), I would like to spend a little time addressing your fear of touching your sperm, too. That's a really important concern, because I want you to be able to be happy and comfortable with all of the natural, normal aspects of your body. That includes making and ejaculating sperm! You absolutely deserve to have a life where you're not afraid of your sperm, so that you can enjoy masturbating, wet dreams, and any other types of pleasurable sexual activity that you may pursue.

First, let's talk a little bit about what sperm are. Sperm are tiny, single-celled organisms produced in your testicles. They're so tiny that you need a microscope to see them. Each sperm has two primary visible parts: a head and a tail. They have no faces, mouths, eyes, ears, thoughts, feelings or other human characteristics, even though sperm combine with ova (female egg cells) to form a fetus. Sperm hang out in your testes until they eventually die and reabsorb into your body, or they are ejaculated out of your body in semen. Only a tiny portion of the volume your ejaculate is sperm; most of your semen is just liquid and nutrients for sperm to live and swim in. Men who have had a vasectomy (a sterilization surgery that keeps sperm from leaving the body during ejaculation) are often surprised to discover that they are unable to see or feel any difference between semen containing sperm and their new semen with no sperm.

Sperm are harmless by themselves. While the fluid part of semen can contain diseases, and sperm can combine with an egg cell to make a woman pregnant, there is nothing dangerous about sperm cells on their own. You cannot catch a disease from your own semen, as your semen can only have diseases in it that you already have. Thus, if you are healthy, then your semen is also disease free.

In fact, sperm are not only harmless but they are also very fragile little organisms. They can live nearly a week within the female reproductive system, but they die very quickly once they get dry in the air, are exposed to cleaning chemicals or change temperature too much. That means that when the semen dries out, the sperm inside are probably dead. According to Dr. Harms of the Mayo Clinic, sperm in semen exposed to the open air will usually die within a few hours. You can also kill sperm on your hands, clothes, or bedding by washing them in soap and water. If you have semen on your body and need a quick clean up, you can simply wipe it up with baby wipe or tissue so that the remaining semen dries quickly. The rest will probably dry in the trash long before you take out the garbage. Please note that soap, water, or air are not effective forms of birth control if semen has gotten in or on your partner's genitals! I'm just talking about sperm that is outside the body. If there are diseases in the semen they may be more resilient, depending on the disease. Hopefully this information will put you at ease about the longevity of your delicate little swimmers.

Now let's talk about your fear of touching your own sperm and spreading it around. On one hand, I can understand that the thought of millions of tiny, swimming organisms coming out of your body might be a bit off-putting. I'm also willing to bet that some people think that's a pretty neat miracle of nature, while others couldn't care less either way. However, I want to be sure that this isn't part of a larger problem. As I said above, your sperm are harmless and I hate to see you suffering because of your fear of contact with them. I hope that learning more about your sperm here has helped you to become less concerned. Because I don't know much about you or your situation, I also want to acknowledge that it's possible that this is just one of several fears that make you miserable, and learning more isn't helping. If your fears about sperm are similar to other fears (perhaps of bugs, germs, other body functions or similar things) that also impact your quality of life, please consider speaking to a health professional. There are many people who find themselves consumed by fear of things that are actually harmless, and the good news is that there are several effective treatments available. As I said above, you deserve to be able to enjoy your orgasms without fear or anxiety, or other negative feelings.

I'm including a few links below that can help you learn more about sperm and ejaculation. If you believe you might have a bigger issue with fears impacting your quality of life, take a look at the last link about anxiety disorders. There is no way for me to know if you have a disorder based on your question, but you can learn more about the topic there. Of course, there is nothing unhealthy about wondering about your sperm and wanting to learn more!

written 09 Feb 2010 . updated 09 Feb 2010

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